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The performance of marine spatial planning in coordinating offshore wind energy with other sea-uses: The case of the Dutch North Sea.

Abstract:

Governments are searching for institutional designs that enable coordination of sea-uses in a more systematic and integrated manner. Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) is presented as such an approach for improved coordination. However, existing literature is increasingly doubting the ability of MSP to accomplish this, particularly regarding offshore wind farms (OWF). Therefore, this paper evaluates how six key principles of MSP perform in coordinating OWF vis-á-vis other spatial claims in the Dutch North Sea. Where existing literature focuses on the conformance of material outcomes to stated objectives, this paper evaluates performance; i.e. how the six principles are understood in successive manifestations of MSP and subsequently used in decision-making regarding OWF. Based on the conditions of knowledge, legitimacy and feasibility, four modes of performance are identified. Knowledge of the principles of MSP can be found throughout successive manifestations of MSP. However, the understanding of these principles in the Dutch case is narrowed in order to create a robust system that ensures a quick and cost-effective roll-out of offshore wind energy to meet (inter)national renewable energy targets. The focus lies on furthering the feasibility of OWF development, resulting in a dominant mode of performance that is termed ‘legitimacy misfit’; MSP is used as a tool to implement external sustainability discourses and renewable energy targets, rather than forming a systematic and integrated marine governance approach that balances various interests at sea. Furthermore, it is necessary to develop a more critical approach to the operationalization of the principles of MSP that is sensitive to possible interdependencies and conflicts.

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QUESTIONS THIS PRACTICE MAY HELP ANSWER:

  • What is the role of MSP in coordinating offshore wind energy with other sea-uses in the Dutch North Sea?
  • What are the key principles of MSP?

IMPLEMENTATION CONTEXT:

The study was conducted by the research team from the Department of Spatial Planning & Environment, University of Groningen.

ASPECTS / OBJECTIVES:

This paper evaluates how six key principles of MSP perform in coordinating offshore wind farms (OWF) vis-á-vis other spatial claims in the Dutch North Sea.

METHOD:

The study included an extensive literature review.

MAIN OUTPUTS / RESULTS:

The paper evaluated how the six principles are understood in successive manifestations of MSP and subsequently used in decision-making regarding OWF.

TRANSFERABILITY:

The study is conducted for the Dutch North Sea.

Responsible Entity: 

University of Groningen, Department of Spatial Planning & Environment, the Netherlands.

Contact person: 

R.C. Spijkerboer: r.c.spijkerboeratrug.nl (r[dot]c[dot]spijkerboer[at]rug[dot]nl)

 

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